If you are a Woman Seeking Art reader, you already know that I adore Betty Woodman. My heart skips a beat when I see her ceramic work. I love, love, love her work. Her pillow pitcher design is in my top five favorite pieces of ceramics.
I liked the show, Betty Woodman: Conversations on the Shore at David Kordansky in Chelsea, so much I saw it three times. The Woodman Family Foundation, along with Kordansky, represent the estate. My first visit was a talk and walkthrough with a small group of people and the main two women who put on the show, one from the foundation and one from the gallery. The show was work from the 1990s. I am certain I was one of those annoying people in the group who asked way too many questions. There is one in every group, and this time it was me. Sorry, not sorry!
Briefly, Woodman was influenced by Bauhaus where living with beautiful things was important. The 1980s were transformative for Woodman in that she no longer made functional work, only sculptural. The work was about function, it was just not functional, like the beloved pillow pitcher. In the 1990s she scales up and pieces became more gestural. If you look at the space between vases you notice that is also gestural. Negative space was very important especially on wall pieces. In making a sculpture she felt as the maker you are responsible for the entire theatricality and presentation, versus making a cup. Woodman never wanted to look back, and shifted her palette over the years. I asked where a lot of these had been? Woodman liked to hold onto some of her best examples of her work, and none of these pieces have been seen since the 1990s.
Below is the central piece of the show. You can read specifics on all the pieces here.
I looked at every angle of every piece multiple times. Woodman was a painter, and I’m not, so I was hoping to learn from her work. I do understand construction, and I inspected every piece carefully. If you need more photos just let me know as I took about 200 over my three visits. Call me crazy, but I had the best visits.